WATCH: Women and girls are still protesting in Iran. Here’s why

Seven months after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed at the hands of Iran’s so-called morality police in September, protests across the country calling for the rights of women and girls continue.

Amini’s death after she was arrested for allegedly violating the country’s conservative dress code for women sparked sustained protests led by women and young people. The Iranian government has detained over 20,000 protesters and killed more than 500, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been tracking the movement. Since November, a string of suspected poisonings has taken place at more than 50 girls’ schools across the country.

While it isn’t yet known who is behind the attacks, “One thing is clear: It’s systematic and it is targeting young women because the young women are the ones who dare to stand up,” said Elham Gheytanchi-Fotoohi, an Iran expert and instructor of sociology at Santa Monica College, in a March 8 conversation with PBS NewsHour Digital Correspondent Nicole Ellis.

Watch the conversation in the player above.

This is not the first time women in Iran have advocated for their rights on a large scale. The widespread progress for equity in Iran was swiftly reversed during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s secular monarchy and replaced it with the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Shiite Islam-driven regime. The new government implemented restrictions that specifically targeted women and girls — limiting their career prospects and pushing a strict dress code, which included making the hijab mandatory. On March 8, 1979, what started as a meeting to mark International Women’s Day turned into a protest against the mandatory hijab. The protests now are reminiscent of those early pushes for equity, Gheytanchi-Fotoohi said.

Gheytanchi-Fotoohi said that the women and girls protesting in Iran today don’t aim to overthrow the country’s government; instead, they’re demanding the right to “have freedom over our own bodies.”